Chapter 1: Every Trip Is a Quest (Except When It’s Not)
In Chapter 1 the author explains the symbolic reasoning of why a character takes a trip. They don’t just take a trip they take a quest. Structurally a quest has a quester, a place to go, a stated reason to go there, challenges and trials en route, and a reason to go there. Quests usually involve characters such as a knight, a dangerous road, a Holy Grail, a dragon, an evil knight, and a princess. The quest also involves the character to gain self-knowledge out of taking the adventure to the stated place where he or she is going.
Chapter 2: Nice to Eat with You: Acts of Communion
Chapter 2 tells of the symbolism that takes place while characters are eating a meal together. The author states that when people eat together it is saying “I’m with you, I like you, we form a community together.” The meal also shows how a person feels towards another person. It can show whether you like or dislike the person. The author explains how the description of the food isn’t just to inform you of what is being eaten. It is to draw you into the moment and help you feel the realism of that moment.
Chapter 3: Nice to Eat You: Acts of Vampires
In Chapter 3 the author explains in Chapter three how vampirism isn’t always about vampires. Vampirism is a characteristic a character can portray, such as selfishness, exploitation, and rudeness. The character takes advantage of people, like a vampire would to his prey. Many authors actually use vampires, ghosts, or doppelgangers to portray vampiristic qualities instead of letting the reader infer those qualities into a human.
Chapter 4: If It’s Square, It’s A Sonnet
Chapter 4 tells about how sonnets are formed and how to identify a sonnet.
Sonnets are in a square shape and they always have 14 lines in them. The author says that sonnets may be challenging to understand, but they are the most interesting poems because they are able to say what they have to say in only 14 lines and 10 syllables.
Chapter 5: Now, Where Have I Seen Her Before?
In chapter 5 the author explains how stories overlap in a way. Book are never totally original. They all use similar characters with similar personalities. Authors use other authors to influence their style of writing and what they write about.
Chapter 6: When In Doubt, It’s from Shakespeare . . .
Chapter 6 is all about William Shakespeare. The author believes that almost all stories written were somehow influenced by a play or sonnet or some sort of Shakespeare’s works. Some of even the most famous stories ever written were somehow connected to a piece by William Shakespeare.
Chapter 7: . . . Or the Bible
Chapter 7 is similar to the chapter that refers to Shakespeare. It states how every piece of literature is somehow related to or referring to the Bible. They all involve things such as temptation, betrayal, denial, etc. Also, writers refer to the Bible because almost everybody knows at least some of the stories from the Bible.
Chapter 8: Hanseldee and Greteldum
In chapter 8 the author explains how many stories are connected to fairy tales, like a parallel. Fairy tales are easy to connect to because they all have a plot and solution, so there is always a way to connect a story to the fairy tales.
Chapter 9: It’s Greek to Me
Chapter 9 is about myths and how they are related to Greek mythology. There are three types of myth: Shakespearean, Biblical, and fairy tales. There are many things connected to Greece. Many things are named and based off of Greek characters. Mascots, towns, and some people are even named after some of the greates heros of Greek times.
Chapter 10: It’s More Than Just Rain or Snow
Chapter 10 is about the symbolism of weather. The author talks of the uses of weather such as rain, wind, snow, etc. The uses are plot device, atmospherics, democratic element, cleansing, and restorative. The weather is a very critical detail in setting the scene for stories.
Chapter 11: More Than It’s Gonna Hurt You: Concerning Violence
Chapter 11 is about the significant meaning of violence. There are two categories of violence in literature: the specific injury and the narrative violence. Specific injury causes characters to visit on one another or on themselves. Narrative violence cause the characters to cause harm in general.
Chapter 12: Is That a Symbol?
Chapter 12 is about symbolism. The author says that not everybody will think a symbol will mean the same thing and it won’t. The symbol is whatever you think it means. Some writers make their symbols direct, but most let you use your own imagination.
Chapter 13: It’s All Political
Chapter 13 was about how most writing is political. It was about how writers secretly put their political point of views into their stories. Usually political writing is boring and vague. Some writing is more political than others, but nearly all writing is political on some level.
Chapter 14: Yes, She’s a Christ Figure, Too
Chapter 14 is about how almost everything, in some form, is a Christ figure. The chapter gives a list to relate characters to. The list is 1. crucified, wounds in the hands, feet, side, and head 2. in agony 3. self-sacrificing 4. good with children 5.good with loaves, fishes, water, wine 6. thirty-three years of age when last seen 7. employed as a carpenter 8. known to use humble modes of transportation, feet or donkeys preferred 9. believed to have walked on water 10. often portrayed with arms outstretched 11. known to have spent time alone in the wilderness 12. believed to have had a confrontation with the devil, possibly tempted 13. last seen in the company of thieves 14. creator of many aphorisms and parables 15. buried, but arose on the third day 16. had disciples, twelve at first, although not all equally devoted 17. very forgiving 18. came to redeem an unworthy world.
Chapter 15: Flights of Fancy
Chapter 15 is all about the symbolism of flying. Flying is freedom. That’s what it symbolizes. Usually stories are fiction when you see a character flying, but when you do the person is either a superhero, ski jumper, crazy, a circus act, suspended on wires, an angel, or heavily symbolic.
Chapter 16: It’s All About Sex . . .
It’s All About Sex, or Chapter 16, is about the symbollic meaning of sex in a story or movie. The author says that usually sex isn’t even about the sex or things that have nothing to do with sex are usually about sex.
Chapter 17: . . . Except Sex
Chapter 17 is about how sex is never actually used in literature. Authors always describe the scene before and the scene after but never the inbetween. There is really only one way of writing about sex, of course the characters can do different things but in the end it’s still the same thing. that’s why it’s ok to just leave the actual physical part out of the book
and only describe the before and after.
Chapter 18: If She Comes Up, It’s Baptism
Chapter 18 is all about the significance of water. When a character goes under water and comes back up, it usually means that the character was renewed or reborn. Then after that the character will be a whole new being. Sometimes the character goes under and doesn’t come back up, but the only significance this has is that the character dies.
Chapter 19: Geography Matters . . .
Chapter 19 is about the geography. The geography symbolizes the mood of the characters. Such as if a character is on the beach they are usually relaxed and calm. Hills can symbolize journeys or difficult tasks that the character has to overcome.
Chapter 20: . . . So Does Season
Chapter 20 is about the effect seasons have. Most teenage movies are set in the summer because that is supposedly the prime of their lives. Winter signifies age and the characters are usually moody or gloomy. When it is fall the characters are probably changing is some ways. Spring the character is probably renewed in some way.
Chapter 21: Marked for Greatness
Chapter 21 is about how defaults in a character mean more than just some sort of handicap. Everything has a meaning. Take for instance the scar on Harry Potter’s head. It has a story of its own. It reminds him of his parents and what happened to them.
Chapter 22: He’s Blind for a Reason, You Know
Chapter 22 is about the symbolic meanings of blindness. Not all the time in
stories is the person who is literally blind actually the blind one. Blind people can be the people who have sight but are greedy and selfish.
Chapter 23: It’s Never Just Heart Disease . . .
Chapter 23 tells about how when an author mentions heart disease in a story, it’s never just heart disease. Since the heart represents practically all emotion, when the heart has troubles it could be interpreted as lonliness or pain. Usually the characters with heart disease are never happy with life.
Chapter 24: . . . And Rarely Just Illness
In chapter 24 the author suggests the use of illnesses. He states that when writing a story, you can’t just use any illness off the top of your mind. The illness must be picturesque, meaning that the illness should affect the physical appearance of the character. Also the illness should have strong symbolic or metaphorical possibilities.
Chapter 25: Don’t Read with Your Eyes
Chapter 25 is called “Don’t Read With Your Eyes.” The chapter is basically a restatement of previous chapters, just repeating that readers need to think of the story in a different perspective and that they should see the author or maybe the characters point of view.
Chapter 26: Is He Serious? And Other Ironies
In chapter 26 the author states that even though we went through the entire book learning about all of these new symbolic meanings in literature, sometimes irony will come and mess things all up. He says something that helps me remember: “irony trumps everything.” Even though we spent hours reading about all of the symbolic and metaphorical possibilities in stories, there only has to be one, tiny ironic thing that could come along at the end of the story and completely wipe out all of the symbols and metaphor we just read.